Egypt – authorities must release hundreds of persons detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms

The ICJ today called on the Egyptian authorities to respect and protect the right of Egyptians to the freedom of expression, association and assembly, and ensure that all those arbitrarily detained over the past week in the context of recent protests against President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rule are immediately and unconditionally released.

On 26 September, the Office of the Public Prosecutor issued a statement confirming the detention of more than 1000 people following their “participation in protests” and “confessions” that their participation is related to “their dissatisfaction with the economic situation in the country,” and “opposition to the regime.”

Documentation by local NGOs indicates that as many as 2000 people may have been arrested, and that most of them were charged with “belonging to a ‘terrorist group’ and “distributing false information through social media aiming at disturbing the public order and opinion.”

“Egyptians taking to the street in protest are defying six years of Sisi’s government rampant corruption, relentless repression, and systematic dismantling of the rule of law and accountability safeguards,” said Said Benarbia, ICJ MENA Director.

Benarbia added, “By filling prisons with those purportedly dissatisfied with the situation in the country, Egypt’s prosecutors and judges are acting, yet again, as a docile tool of repression rather than a shield against the military’s crackdown on human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

As the country braces for new protests today, the ICJ is deeply concerned that Egyptian laws place overly restrictive limitations on the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly and give security forces sweeping powers to disperse protests, including by using lethal force when it is not strictly necessary to protect lives.

Six years after the killing by the armed and security forces of more than 1,000 individuals in the context of the dispersal of the Rabaa’ Al-Adawyia and Al Nahda Square sit-ins, the ICJ notes that not a single person has been brought to justice for the mass killings of protestors.

“Egyptian security and armed forces have a long history of recourse to unlawful and disproportionate use of force, including firing with live ammunition into crowds,” said Benarbia.

“They must comply with Egypt’s obligations under international law and guarantee the rights of protesters to life, to be free from torture and other ill-treatment, and to freedom of assembly, association and expression,” added Benarbia.


Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +41-22-979-3817; e: said.benarbia(a)


Egypt-free detainees-News-Press releases-2019-ARA (press release in Arabic, PDF)

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